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We have liftoff

Over the past several years, Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport near Truth or Consequences, has been in and out of the news.

Excitement, hopes and expectations were especially high in 2014, when many of us believed Virgin Galactic was on the verge of taking everyday people into suborbital space.

An unfortunate accident during a test flight from the Mojave Desert put those expectations on hold.

But, at long last, 2019 promises to be the year!

Launch activities are ramping up at Spaceport America. Sir Richard Branson has stated publicly that he plans to lead the way, taking the inaugural flight on Virgin Galactic’s White Knight Two from Spaceport America, and all indications are that this launch will occur this year.

The year 2019 is a fitting year for this once in a lifetime launch event from New Mexico’s Spaceport America as our world will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon on July 20, 1969.

Virgin Galactic isn’t the only company making news from Spaceport America.

On March 2, Texas firm EXOS Aerospace Systems & Technologies, Inc., a leading developer of reusable space launch vehicles, successfully launched a reusable rocket that will carry commercial payloads for suborbital research.

EXOS is also developing a capability to launch payloads into low earth orbit.

EXOS also successfully completed their Pathfinder Launch from Spaceport on August 25, 2018, which was one of roughly 200 vertical and horizontal launches from Spaceport over the past few years.

Up Aerospace is another suborbital launch provider that recently supported two successful launches for NASA research experiments and have more launches scheduled in 2019.

In addition, Spaceport America just signed a contract with an exciting new launch capability known as SpinLaunch. The spaceport also has two additional companies with plans to start efforts in March of this year.

The Las Cruces Space Festival kicks off a weeklong event that starts on April 7 at Spaceport America and attracts companies and people interested in the opportunity space presents for advancing a global economy.

Additionally, the world’s largest intercollegiate rocket engineering conference and rocket launch competition will begin the week of June 17, where more than 122 teams, consisting of 1,500 students and faculty, will gather in southern New Mexico for the third annual Spaceport America Cup in 2019.

It all adds up to the fact that Spaceport America has strong growth and is on the brink of seeing a dramatic increase in activity, including manned flights.

In Virgin Galactic’s case, more than 600 people from all over the world have purchased their tickets, investing $250,000 each to fly from Spaceport into suborbital space, thus qualifying for astronaut wings.

That’s more than all the people worldwide to date who have earned their astronaut wings.

Spaceport America will soon be welcoming a new group of tourists to the Land of Enchantment – global adventurists and soon-to-be “astronauts” from around the world – most of whom may very well be seeing New Mexico for the first time – with many bringing family and other guests with them.

And that’s just the beginning.

Launch activity will draw visitors from all walks of life, from scientists and physicists to tourists from all over the globe.

We are on the cusp of a promising and ever-expanding opportunity for New Mexico. As residents, each of us should take time to visit and tour Spaceport America to help us appreciate how fascinating it is and the potential it represents.

With Spaceport generating what is expected to be more than 200,000 new visitors per year, we have a lot of upside potential in relation to job creation and gross receipts.

Spaceport America has already gained international attention, and with millions expected to tune into Richard Branson’s inaugural flight, we can expect to see New Mexico garnering a lot of attention in 2019 and for countless years to come.

Let’s be proud of New Mexico, and proud of the amazing role we now play in space exploration.

And, let’s show that pride to all who visit.

As business owners, employees, legislators and residents, let’s do our part to ensure our visitors have a positive, rewarding and memorable experience, giving them every reason to come back again and again.

Who knows. They may even consider New Mexico as the perfect place to live, work or conduct business!

Our hospitality, our enthusiasm, our state pride will make all the difference.

Also signed by these other Ambassadors for Spaceport America: Tom Hutchinson, Anne Watkins, Philip San Filippo, Debbi Moore, Richard Holcomb and Joe Bullington